(Photo courtesy of James Palinsad)

Chile has a long history of wine production. It all began in the 16th Century when Spanish conquistadors introduced wine grapes and then escalated roughly three centuries later when an influx of French settlers increased both supply and demand. Today, the South American nation is the ninth largest producer of wine in the world and the fourth largest exporter.

In the 1990’s, Chile began to take wine more seriously. In 1994, a regionally based, AOC type system was implemented. However, most of the nation’s output is still identified by varietal with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carmenere being the most common grapes. The era also saw a widespread shit from flood irrigation to drip irrigation reducing quantity and increasing quality.

The climate makes for fruit-y wines with high acid levels. Likewise, low tannin levels and woody flavors often mark Chilean wines. An absence of phylloxera means that roots are not grafted, a condition that natives (but few others) believe to contribute to a cleaner taste.

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